Family Core Values, Part Two

How do we talk about core values with the families at Momentous School? Read this post from first grade teacher Ashley Stephenson.

By Ivette Lampl, MS, LPC, LMFT Bilingual Intake Clinician | Nov 03, 2014

We recently wrote about our agency’s core values: respect, innovation, stewardship, collaboration and hope. Our therapeutic group leader, Ivette, shared a story about how she helps families identify and work towards strong family values.  Today we’ll hear from Ashley Stephenson , first-grade teacher at Momentous School.
At the beginning of each school year, all of the teachers at our school visit each of their students in his/her home. This gives families an opportunity to meet their child’s teacher in a comfortable environment, and gives the teacher some context for the student as they enter the school year. If you are a school teacher or administrator, I highly encourage you to talk about adding home visits into your school culture. It has made all the difference in how we understand and interact with our student’s families.
Family is important in school culture. Kids come to us with a whole set of values that they learn at home.
This year, our teachers had an activity planned based on family values. Teachers explained to families about our school’s five core values and what they mean for us. I also told my students and their families about my personal core values: spending time with my family, lifelong learning, giving back to the community, laughing, and having a good balance of work/fun. Then I drew a picture of my family for them to see and learn more about me.
I asked the families to name their own family values. What drives your family? What are the most important qualities in your family?
The families were left with five slips of paper. On their own time after we left, they wrote one of their family values on each slip. They also either drew a picture or glued a photo of their family onto a paper heart. Students linked theirs together into a paper chain and brought them during the first week of school. As we shared them as a class, we learned that most families valued the same things – very important things – like spending time together, faith/religion, and helping others. This activity really helped connect the students. It was especially great for the new students to feel included. The kids were so excited to share about what their families had come up with. And as their teacher, it really helped me take a pulse of my class and see what their home values are and how that will play out over the course of the school year.

Family Core Values2

Every grade in the school did this same activity, so after all of the classes had time to share their answers, we sent all of the slips of paper down to our school’s “parent center” and our parent volunteers hung them from the ceiling. I told my students that all of the families at our school might value different things, but all of us are connected, and all of our values are important.

Family Core Values1

We talk a lot about our school values over the course of the year. Adding in family values just gives it a deeper and more personal level, and I think it really helped our students and families feel even more connected. Plus the parent center is covered in family values rings, and they serve as a constant reminder of what is important in life!
Now we want to know: what are your family values?